Aired September 9, 2012 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoX71_XOpKQ&feature=youtu.be
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of September 9, 2012.
You know, I worried when I was bringing my show, Shalom Dammit!, back to New York, that off-off-Broadway would not be ready for me, that I would slink away with my tuchas between my legs, older, sadder and wiser.
Well, I am older and sadder, but not wiser! I had a wonderful time doing my show at the RoyAriasTheaterCenter for two weeks last month. We did 18 shows – chai! – and we had the perfect mix of audiences: young people who thought they were seeing Seinfeld, old people who thought they were at Yom Kippur services, and middle-aged people who paid bupkis for their tickets, fell asleep, then went home at intermission to watch “Ice Road Truckers.”
But somewhere in there, we had people who got it. Audiences who laughed and clapped, or laughed and had the clap, or simply rode the wave of comedy, anger and education that is Shalom Dammit! An Evening with Me. Best of all, the critics were nearly unanimous in their accolades. I may not know much, but I do know that when critics hand you accolades, you make accolemonade.
These are just some quotes from real theater critics in their reviews of my show. “A stimulating and exhilarating experience!” Roy Sander, BistroAwards.com. Oh wait, he was talking about his new shower head.
Irene Backalenick, 90-year-old theater critic for Jewish-Theatre.com, wrote: “Shalom Dammit! calls to mind the more political, biting commentators of another ilk. We think of Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, Jackie Mason, Jerry Seinfeld!” Wow! Of course, she left out Pigmeat Markham, but nobody’s perfect.
Ed Malin, of New York Theater.com called me “humorously self-loathing,” which is only half right: I loathe everybody. But he also said, “If you are looking to laugh at yourself a little, and others a lot more, this would be a good show to attend.” Well, who isn’t looking to laugh at others? Republicans, lawyers, people with lupus – they all come in for their share of giggles.
And how about this from “Two on the Aisle” TV host, Leslie (Hoban) Blake: “Wildly funny and intentionally abrasive – think Tom Lehrer.” Whoa, Tom Lehrer! Leslie, I am not worthy, I am not worthy, I am – okay, I’m a little worthy, but to compare me to the greatest comedy songwriter since Rod McKuen – if you count intentional and unintentional – I can only bow my head very low and say, “hmm . . . what the hell is that on my shoes?”
Now, not everyone is a fan. Some people were offended. Especially the fat ones. Some people didn’t like my poking fun of the absurdity of all religions. Some folks objected to my calling Arab leaders vicious, dishonest, magic-carpet-riding, Satan-worshipping terrorists. Actually, nobody objected to that, but still. . . there were grumbles. Joel Benjamin of TheaterScene.net wrote, quote, “Rabbi Sol Solomon makes many valiant points that are completely on the mark, but his need to shock with profanity, body-function humor and sexual innuendo undermine him.” Sexual innuendo? Moi? I have a bone to pick with you, Joel Benjamin. I can’t believe you’re being so hard on me. I just think you’re being a dick-ensian prude. Penis.
But seriously, Mr. Benjamin goes on to suggest that, quote, “One less poop joke and a lighter touch would have served his mission better.” Okay, which one? It’s like Mozart with too many notes. Which poop joke hits the fan? The one about the pile of poop in a field? The one about my gastroenteritis? The one about getting explosive Taco Bell diarrhea last night? No, wait, that wasn’t a joke, I was still wiping this morning.
Mr. Benjamin, with all due respect, I feed on poop! Contrary to Mary Poppins’ diagnosis that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, I say a bucketful of shit helps people laugh, forces them to exhale and not be so uptight, and then allows me to bring my message to the masses, and my mass to the messes. If I want you to pay attention, I’m gonna use exactly the words and the phrases that will make you take notice – even if it means lobbing yiddishisms, bad puns, and even scatology. After all, I’m not a Scath-olic.
But to his credit, even Mr. Benjamin notes that I have a “genuine spark,” an untameable whirlwind of passion. Which would shock the hell out of my wife, let me tell ya. So I thank him and all the critics and audiences who came to my show and let me practice my special brand of Judaism on them.
You’ll be happy to know I am in the process of re-shaping the show into a one-act – so no one can escape at intermission – and to make Shalom Dammit! even better for touring and bringing back to Manhattan. I will leave my last words to the theater journalist and author Iris Dorbian, who called my show, “uproariously funny. Will make your sides split with laughter while making you think. A rare combo!” Actually, that happens anytime I watch Fox News, but I’m still grateful for your compliments, your attendance, your applause, and your money. Just in case you forgot I was Jewish: thank you, paying customers, for your money.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, TempleSons of Bitches in Great Neck, New York.
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